Decoration Day – The Origin of Memorial Day

 John A. Logan, MAJ GEN, United States Army

John A. Logan, MAJ GEN, United States Army

A Note of Some Import: Memorial Day exists to Honor our fallen comrades-in-arms (most were US Citizens, and some not) who gave their lives in Service to these United States of America. The total number of dead in Service is now tallied at 1.1 million. It is important to cogitate on this number of 1.1 million souls, making the effort to connect that number to the lives given in Service to Our Nation. This thinking might be the most important task you may have – tomorrow – on Memorial Day.

A Very Brief History of
John A. Logan, GENERAL, Grand Army of the Republic (An American Civil War (Union) to World War One era United States Veteran’s Organization) was the driving force behind the creation of Decoration Day. Logan held the rank of Major General in the Army of the United States during the Rebellion.

The good General (he is depicted in a photograph at the beginning of this post) was also a founder of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), and duly elected as the GAR’s second national Commander-in-Chief.

General Locan issued General Order No. 11, which called for a national day of grave-site decoration and memorial activities for Civil War dead. General Order No. 11 became the foundational document for what later became Memorial Day.

An observance of size was recorded on May 30,1868, as Decoration Day at Arlington National Cemetery within the Commonwealth of Virginia; of which, whose sacred ground is situated directly across the Potomac River from our Nation’s Capitol – Washington, District of Columbia.

Below, the full text of General Order No. 11 in all it’s pithy exactitude, appears.

General Order No. 11
Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic
Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868

Gen. John A. Logan

I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice of neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude, — the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

III . Department commanders will use every effort to make this order effective.

By order of


Adjutant General


*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Infosecurity.US authored by Marc Handelman. Read the original post at: